American Promise Teacher & Classroom Resources

American Promise Teacher & Classroom Resources

Idris and Seun

Credit: Courtesy of Michèle Stephenson

American Promise is an intimate and provocative account, recorded over 13 years, of the experiences of two middle-class African-American boys who enter a prestigious private school and their families confront the opportunities and frustrations.
American Promise, directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, explores black male achievement and shines a light on the importance of parents, educators and community in the success of our young black men.

The Teaching Tolerance website designed the accompanying professional development series to help school faculty become more aware of the ways schools do and don't work well for African-American male students. Each module uses selections from the film to facilitate discussion among instructors about the kinds of practices and pedagogical approaches that are effective. The clips and discussion prompts can also be used with middle school and high school students to consider the issues.

The Four Modules Include:

  1.   Classroom Identities Explore the influence of identity on classroom instruction, particularly as it relates to race, gender and class.  

2.   Exploring Assimilation Focus on the processes of assimilation, which may consciously or unconsciously occur inside of the classroom. 

3.  Rethinking Achievement Understand the issues surrounding achievement. 

4. The Education System, Outside and Within Investigate the idea of education as a system by taking a macro approach. 

Film Discussion Guide: Download

Teacher Professional Development Resources from

Film Preview:

This program is made possible by a grant from American Documentary | POV, with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.


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